This one is massive so forgive me for just skimming the surface. When we think of mental health and all the many and varied diagnosis it encompasses nutrition rarely gets a mention beyond ‘eat well’ yet it is an integral part of mental health. There is not one solution to mental health. I firmly believe it takes a village to support mental health. Pulling together a team of trusted health care providers to support you including GP’s, psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, natural health care practitioners and body workers creates an unparalleled support network. Whatever brings you even a small amount of help needs to be added in. Like I said, it takes a team.
When we talk about nutrition, I am so grateful that the gut-brain axis is being recognised in conventional circles as well as recognising that genetics play a part in mental health and this includes our ability to convert nutrients to usable forms. There’s so much more research being done! I am loving that nutrition is finally being acknowledged as part of the bigger picture in mental health.
I’m the boring person at parties these days with my preoccupation with the gut-brain axis but more and more studies are being done looking at the connection. It’s an incredibly exciting area of mental health. For starters 90% of our serotonin lives in here. This is one of our feel-good hormones. Histamine, as well as causing allergic reactions, is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is broken down in the gut. B12 is synthesised in the gut which, at low levels, can be an issue for energy levels and depression as well as being needed for the creation of other neurotransmitters.
Did you know that zinc to copper ratios need to be just right for good mental health? If they are not, we can see a range of mental health concerns ranging from mild anxiety to risky, impulsive behaviour. Often children will present as having low attention spans, unable to sit still and have angry outbursts. Low zinc can impact our ability to think. ‘No zinc, no think’ is a nice little saying but low copper can create similar issues so be cautious with supplementation. Zinc and copper can most definitely be tested in a blood test.
Before you all run out to get blood test be aware that these are not the only things that could be an issue. Low vitamin D can be an issue in depression as can low B12. Too much histamine stimulates our nervous system also. Honestly, the list goes on and on. This is just a very quick overview.
There are many, many reasons why you may be feeling the way you do which is why creating a team to thoroughly cover everything is so important.
Here’s a fun one that seems incredibly topical right now. Variations in the MTHFR gene can inhibit our body’s ability to change folic acid to folate (the useable form). There are lots and lots of fall outs from this including recurrent miscarriage to, you guessed it, mental health issues. It sounds simple enough, but over-methylating and under-methylating give 2 different responses.
A huge range of children’s behaviours can be exacerbated by a variation in the MTHFR gene including lack of attention, impulsivity, anxiety, obsessive behaviour or thoughts and self-harm in more extreme cases. Obviously, these can be attributed to adult concerns as well. The specific MTHFR gene is not the only one in the body that has variations aka mutations aka SNPS but it’s a common example.
It is all about epigenetics and whether these genes are active or not. All kinds of things get them going including stress, diet, environment, exposure to toxins and so on. It is absolutely possible to test for these things although symptoms need to be taken into account as well. We are individuals after all!
I’m not suggesting that anything I’m outlining here is THE answer to all mental health issues, but they are definitely a piece of the puzzle worth exploring. If you are concerned, chat with your GP but also with your natural health practitioners. Get your team together! There are many pieces to the mental health puzzle. It is worth exploring them all!
The information given here is general in nature and not intended as a diagnosis nor should it be taken as such. It is in no way intended to take the place of advice from your chosen healthcare professional or specialist. If symptoms persist, or you have further concerns please see your chosen health care provider.
Martin, C., Osadchiy, V., Kalani, A., & Mayer, E. (2018). The Brain-Gut-Microbiome Axis. Cellular And Molecular Gastroenterology And Hepatology, 6(2), 133-148. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2018.04.003
Russo, A. (2011). Decreased Zinc and Increased Copper in Individuals with Anxiety. Nutrition And Metabolic Insights, 4, NMI.S6349. doi: 10.4137/nmi.s6349
The role of genetics and genomics in clinical psychiatry. (2018). Controversies In Psychiatry, 20(3), 169-177. doi: 10.31887/dcns.2018.20.3/mhoehe
Wan, L., Li, Y., Zhang, Z., Sun, Z., He, Y., & Li, R. (2018). Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase and psychiatric diseases. Translational Psychiatry, 8(1). doi: 10.1038/s41398-018-0276-6
Hello, hello! Welcome to my blog. I'm Sarah the creator of Simply Healing.
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